Times Radio reveals political opinion divides across the UK

Times Radio has unveiled the results of new polling data that underpins the regions in the UK with the highest levels of political knowledge, engagement and ambition.

The comprehensive survey, conducted across the nation, sheds light on regional differences in political awareness and trust in politicians as the country gears up for the 2024 General Election.

The research was commissioned by Times Radio in line with the launch of its Election Bus Tour, which took to the road on Monday 3 June. Broadcasting live from a studio within the giant branded tour bus, Times Radio is travelling across the UK to listen to the voices of local communities and highlight the political issues that matter most to them.

Times Radio presenter John Pienaar said: “This research shows people are interested and aware of what’s happening in politics, but feel politicians don’t understand what matters to them locally.

“We’ve hit the road with the Times Radio election bus to talk to people up and down the country – and to listen.

“We’ll be discussing the things people think really matter. We’ll make sure our listeners feel informed and involved as we get closer to election day.”

Aspirations to political leadership

  • The survey explored the public’s aspirations to become political leaders, uncovering a significant interest in political roles. Over a third (39%) of all respondents believe they could do a better job than most current politicians.
  • Additionally, 10% would consider running for local political office and 7% would consider becoming an MP.
  • Notably, men are around twice as likely as women to aspire to roles such as local councillor (14% vs 7%) and over three times as likely to aim for a position as an MP (10% vs 3%).
  • 9% of Londoners would consider becoming an MP compared to 4% from the West Midlands

National politicians understanding local issues

  • An overwhelming majority (73%) of people believe that Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party don’t understand local political issues. Over half (57%) expressed the same sentiment about Keir Starmer and the Labour Party.
  • Regional differences were significant. In the North East, 86% distrusted Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives’ grasp of local issues, the highest in the country, while regions such as the East Midlands had amongst the lowest distrust at 69%.
  • Scotland had amongst the most distrust in Keir Starmer and Labour, with 65% of respondents believing the party doesn’t understand local politics. Regions such as Yorkshire and the Humber had amongst the lowest percentage of people who felt this way, with 52%.

Informed on politics

  • The majority of respondents (61%) felt well-informed about national politics, compared to 39% who said they felt informed about local issues. Additionally, 43% of UK adults reported often discussing politics with family and friends.
  • Among regions, Londoners were amongst those who felt the most well-informed on national politics (67%), followed by residents of Yorkshire and the Humber (62%). The South West, East of England, Scotland, and Wales each reported 61% feeling well-informed, while the West Midlands and South East reported 60%. The North West followed with 59%, the North East with 55% and the East Midlands had amongst the lowest percentage of residents feeling well-informed at 53%.

Biggest challenges facing politicians

  • The survey highlights the increasing pressures faced by politicians today. The top challenge identified is the responsibility of making decisions that impact many people’s lives (47%), followed by being on the receiving end of abuse (35%) and the necessity of making difficult ethical decisions (28%).
  • Some respondents (17%), however, lacked sympathy, asserting that there are no real challenges for politicians. These findings underscore the complexities and demands of political leadership in the current climate, as well as the disconnect with local communities.

South East findings

  • The South East is among the regions with the least confidence in Keir Starmer and the Labour Party’s understanding of local issues, with only 19% of respondents agreeing they understand these issues.
  • However, that is still more trust than shown in Rishi and the Conservatives, with just over a tenth of respondents from the South East (12%) feeling that the party understands their local issues well. More locally, over a quarter of respondents in the South East have faith in their local representatives (29%).
  • The majority of respondents from the South East (60%) said they felt well-informed about national politics and 43% said they regularly discuss politics with friends and family.
  • Among locals, there’s a strong sense they could do a better job than current politicians. A significant proportion (37%) of those in the South East believe they would be better MPs than the current politicians.

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